O.C. Answer Man: How did UC Irvine end up with an anteater mascot?

anteaterIn 1965, California students thumbed their noses at convention and authority. They marched, burned draft cards, took drugs, and gave their sports teams counterintuitive names, including the Banana Slugs (UC Santa Cruz). When administrators at the new UC Irvine asked students to select a mascot, smart-aleck water polo players Pat Glasgow and Bob Ernst suggested an anteater, inspired by a character in the comic strip “B.C.” The cartoon anteater made a “ZOT!” noise when grabbing ants with its long tongue—a noise that remains UC Irvine’s unlikely battle cry to this day (along with “Give ’em tongue!”). Student leaders lobbied hard for the anteater, campaigned at polling places, and won. Administrators were not thrilled. Today, Irvine is better known for its humorless conformity, but UC Irvine’s Peter the Anteater still brings a touch of 1960s weirdness to the mix.

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